My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
The Bank of England

AT 8 o'clock on New Year's Eve, 1923, my train glided into Liverpool Street station. I had arranged with Herr Dufour-Feronce, the Councillor to the German Embassy, that he should meet me at the station and accompany me to my hotel. Before we left my secretary had asked me if there was any further material I wished her to include in my bag. By way of a joke I had said: "Put in Brockhaus, Volume B--there's something about the Bank of England in it." Fröulein Steffeck took the joke seriously and when we reached our London hotel presented me with Brockhaus. She had to take it back to Germany--unread!

Dufour was at the station to meet me as arranged. I was not a little surprised to see, standing beside him, a tall man with a pointed greyish beard and shrewd, discerning eyes, who introduced himself as Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England. He shook hands warmly and said in English: "I am most heartily glad to see you: you are sincerely welcome. I'm especially pleased that you were able to follow up my invitation so quickly. I have only come to welcome you but I won't keep you any longer as you must be tired. Come and see me, will you, at the Bank of England tomorrow morning at eleven o'clock."

"But Mr. Governor, tomorrow is New Year's Day--surely you won't be going to the Bank tomorrow?"

"That doesn't matter. I want to have a talk with you as soon as possible and I shall expect you at eleven. I hope we shall be friends."

Dufour accompanied me to the hotel. I expressed my pleasure and appreciation that my English colleague should have taken the trouble to come and meet me, especially on New Year's Eve and at such a late hour.

"Oh," said Dufour, "Norman is very keen to make your acquaintance. He will certainly discuss matters of vital importance with you and you can count on his sincere understanding. When I told him you were coming and said I hoped you would get on well together he replied: 'I want to get on well with him.'"

Dufour was not a career diplomat. He came of an old Huguenot titled family who for generations had been highly esteemed in the Leipzig business community. After the First World War certain

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